Law Office of David Miklas, P.A.

Labor & Employment law - Employers only

Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) investigations in Florida

David Miklas is a proud member of the Association of Workplace Investigators, Inc. (AWI), which is the premiere national professional association for those who conduct workplace investigations.

When a charge of discrimination is filed against an employer in Florida, either the EEOC or the FHCR will investigate and notify the employer within 10 days. A charge of discrimination does not constitute a finding that your organization engaged in discrimination. It is merely an allegation of discrimination.  However, it is very important to take such a charge seriously.  The FCHR accepts complaints from persons who feel they have been discriminated against and investigates the complaints to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred; upon completion of the investigation, the FCHR issues a determination of its findings.

In Florida, a person can file a complaint of discrimination with the FCHR on the basis of employment within 365 days of the alleged discriminatory act, and if the claim is based on whistle-blower retaliation: Within 60 days of the alleged discriminatory act.

In many cases, the employer may choose to resolve a charge through mediation or settlement. At the start of an investigation. Mediation and settlement are voluntary resolutions.

During the investigation, the employer and the Charging Party will be asked to provide information. The FCHR investigator will evaluate the information submitted and make a recommendation as to whether there is reasonable cause to believe that unlawful discrimination has taken place. The employer may be asked to:

  • submit a statement of position. This is the employer's opportunity to tell its side of the story.  If you do not have experience successfully responding to EEOC or FCHR charges of discrimination, you should give serious consideration to hiring an experienced labor and employment attorney to assist in your response.
  • respond to a Request for Information (RFI). The RFI may ask the employer to submit personnel policies, Charging Party's personnel files, the personnel files of other individuals and other relevant information. Occasionally the RFI is not tailored to the facts relevant to the allegations and a competent employment attorney can raise appropriate objections to such an overbroad RFI.
  • permit an on-site visit.
  • provide personal contact information for employees or have employees available for witness interviews by the FCHR investigator. A representative of the employer may be present during interviews with management personnel, but the FCHR investigator is allowed to conduct interviews of non-management level employees without the presence or permission of the employer.

When responding to an FCHR charge of discrimination in Florida, employers are encouraged to present any facts that they believe show the allegations are incorrect or do not amount to a violation of the law.  An employer should take all charges of discrimination very seriously and budget adequate time and resources to responding to such charges.  Employers should submit a timely response to the EEOC and provide the necessary information to support its response, even if it is believed the charge does not have merit.

When an FCHR investigation is completed, the investigative findings are submitted to the FCHR General Counsel’s office, which then submits a recommendation and determination to the FCHR Executive Director for approval. The FCHR will then notify the parties of the determination and in
clude instructions on any further steps that can be taken and any remedies available under state discrimination laws.

Employers should keep all documents relevant to responding to an FCHR charge of discrimination, because those documents may be needed later on in the event the employee sues.

In an employment discrimination complaint, if a determination is not issued by the FCHR within 180 days, the complaining party may proceed to court as if a cause determination had been issued.

If reasonable cause for discrimination is not found by the FCHR, a complainant with an employment complaint may request a hearing before the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH). A complainant with a whistle-blower complaint may file a complaint with the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) or file a complaint in an appropriate circuit court.

If reasonable cause for discrimination is found by the FCHR, a complainant with an employment complaint may request a hearing before the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH), or the complainant can file a civil action in an appropriate court.  A complainant with a whistle-blower retaliation complaint may file a complaint with the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) or file a com plaint in an appropriate circuit court.

Q:  What’s the difference between FCHR, EEOC and other local FEPA’s around the state of Florida?

A: Within the state of Florida, many counties, cities, and towns have their own ordinances
prohibiting discrimination, as well as locally-fund ed agencies responsible for enforcing those
ordinances. These agencies are referred to as Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs), and the ordinances enforced by these agencies are similar to the federal laws enforced by the
EEOC. However, in some cases, the local ordinances may offer greater protection to workers or
there may be different deadlines for filing a charge, different standards for determining whether
a worker is protected by those laws, and different types of relief available to victims of
discrimination. In addition to the FCHR, which is the statewide FEPA, the following local FEPAs
also exist in the state of Florida:

  • Jacksonville Human Rights Commission
  • Hillsborough County Equal Opportunity Administrator
  • Miami-Dade County Equal Opportunity Board
  • City of Orlando Office of Human Relations
  • Palm Beach County Office of Equal Opportunity
  • Pinellas County Office of Human Rights
  • City of Tampa Office of Human Rights

Q: What does dual-filing mean?

A: The FCHR has a work share agreement with the EEOC. A work share agreement between the FCHR and the EEOC helps avoid duplicating an investigation. The EEOC and the FCHR act as agents for one another, and it is only necessary for one agency to investigate a claim.